I am off to Edinburgh where I will be speaking, for my first time as a honourary member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, to my “new colleagues”. The connections between Queen’s and Edinburgh are very strong, making this occasion even more special.
One has to look no farther than Queen’s Coat of Arms[i] to understand the closeness of the connections. Like that of the University of Edinburgh, after which Queen’s was fashioned, the centre of our coat of arms is also the St. Andrew’s cross, emblematic of patron saint of Scotland.
At the centre of the cross is a book, indicating that this coat of arms is for a place of learning. The four quadrants of the recognize Canada’s inextricable ties with the British Isles: a pine tree representing Canada, the English rose; a thistle for Scotland, and the Irish shamrock.
The red boarder implies that chronologically, Queen’s is younger than Edinburgh, and the eight gold crowns, symbolize Queen Victoria and the university’s Royal Charter.
Of course, Queen’s motto, Sapienta et Doctrina Stabilitas, serves as a banner, and for those who didn’t take Latin in high school, it means “Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times”.
Not surprisingly, our first Principal, Thomas Liddell, was Scottish, having been educated in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. On 27 Oct. 1841 Liddell was nominated by the colonial committee of the Church of Scotland as principal of Queen’s College at Kingston, Canada West. Scottish-English relationships have, to this day, a “rich history”. So, not surprisingly, one of the motivators for the establishment of Queen’s was “to break the monopoly of the Church of England in higher education in Canada West”. The college opened on March 7, 1842 with one other professor, Peter Colin Campbell and 12 students; Liddell himself taught Hebrew, church history, theology, logic, mathematics, and moral philosophy.[iii]
If you have any Scottish stories to tell, or have a few words of Gaelic that I might use as a greeting to my Scottish colleagues, please comment on the blog…or better yet, please stop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.